We continue our special summer series looking into how our seminarians spend their summers. Up today is Mr. Pat Reidy, C.S.C., who professed vows just over a year ago at the Novitiate. For most of his summer, he is living at Christ the King Parish in South Bend, Ind., and talking classes at Notre Dame. But as he shares with us today, that is not all he has done this summer.
How do you find hope in darkness? Who shows you joy in sadness? Where can you find beauty in tragedy? One month after returning from the country dedicated to Our Savior, El Salvador, I continue to hold these questions close to my heart - and lifting them up to Christ's own wounded heart, I remember.
El Salvador captured my imagination in high school and never let go. The soul-moving witness of so many men and women who gave their sweat and blood for the sake of our Salvadoran brothers and sisters ignited a passion for justice that I continue to fuel through study and prayer at Moreau. One week's immersion through the Notre Dame Pastoral Leadership Practicum (PLP) became pilgrimage, following in the courageous footsteps of modern saints. Church leaders like Oscar Romero and Rutilio Grande. Parents who sacrificed themselves to keep their children from harm. Farmers and laborers who sought a greater realization of God's Kingdom here and now. Men and women who loved the people of El Salvador enough to serve amidst the world's poorest poor in bringing Christ's Gospel where the cross continues to cast its shadow.
El Salvador grew me as a Christian, as a human person, and (in ways both delightful and terrifying) as a seminarian. Standing at the tomb of Romero, or on the floor of San Salvador's cathedral, I couldn't help but imagine what it would have been like to be one of his men in formation. To be his acolyte, as he received death threats from people who would eventually gun him down during Eucharist. To be his student, admiring and dreading his words about true Christian charity. To be his coworker in a Salvadoran vineyard drenched in blood. I hold to his words as I learn to love Christ in others: "We learn to see the face of Christ – the face of Christ that also is the face of a suffering human being, the face of the crucified, the face of the poor, the face of a saint, and the face of every person – and we love each one with the criteria with which we will be judged: 'I was hungry and you gave me to eat.
As I hold his words close, I rediscover in a more brilliant and powerful way the many heroes who've gone before me in Holy Cross fighting for justice in our world. May their intercession join with our prayers, and our efforts, to build God's Kingdom in our schools, neighborhoods, country, and world.